Terms of Reference

Northern Bald Ibis: behaviour

Northern Bald Ibises start their daily activity late compared to other species. On cold days NBI may start leaving their sleeping sites later than 9 a.m. First day activities normally comprise comfort behaviour (yawning, preening) and greetings to their partners and the other colony members. Thereafter the birds enter the ground and start foraging and feeding. The most active hours are the late morning (between 10-12 a.m.) and during the late afternoon (15-17 p.m.). During midday most of the specimens within a given colony are roosting and inactive for 1-2 hours. Cold temperatures (<10 oC), rain and snowfall generally reduce the activity.

Comfort behaviour

The NBI shows distinctive comfort behaviour. Preening constitutes a great part of the daily activity pattern. Comfort behaviour includes preening and social preening, bathing and sunbathing. Social preening can be observed throughout the whole year, but is more intense at the beginning and during the breeding period. Social preening takes place most regularly between breeding partners and parents and offspring.

Agonistic behaviour

Aggression is hardly observed except during breeding season when fighting over nest sites or nesting material. However, the bill is relatively pliable and not a dangerous weapon. To avoid fights, appeasement postures and especially “greeting” is shown. Greeting is undoubtedly the most distinctive and ritualised gesture in the NBI.

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